Perceived health of person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on November 16, 2009.


Perceived health refers to the perception of a person's health in general, either by the person themselves or, in the case of proxy response, by the person responding. Health means not only the absence of disease or injury but also physical, mental and social well being.

Person refers to an individual and is the unit of analysis for most social statistics programmes.


Perceived health may be reported by proxy. Proxy respondents are limited to knowledgeable persons.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

The definition used in this standard conforms to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). The classification is generally compatible with these recommendations. The WHO does not prescribe a specific set of responses but recommends "that five verbally indicated categories be used, in which common terms such as 'good' and 'bad' are presented." The response categories used in this standard are compatible with those used in the United States' National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and in their Medical Outcome Study. In the NHIS, respondent-assessed health status is based on the question, ''Would you say [person's] health in general is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?''. The same question and answer categories are also used in Australia, and in SF-36 and SF-12, instruments used internationally.


World Health Organization, A. de Bruin, H.S.J. Picavet and A. Nossikov eds., 1996. Toward the international harmonisation of methods and instruments. (Accessed October 21, 2010).

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2008. Summary Health Statistics for the U.S. Population: National Health Interview Survey, 2007 (PDF, 3.18 mb). (Accessed October 21, 2010).


  • Age-standardized percentage of total June 01, 2016 to current
  • Percentage March 16, 1998 to current


Relation to previous version

  • Perceived health of person November 16, 2009 to current

    This standard replaces the standard for 'Health status, self assessed'. The name differs to reflect terminology currently in use and the practice in data collection of allowing proxy reporting. The definition differs, referring to perceived "health in general" instead of perceived "health status or condition compared to other persons in the respondent's age group" as in the previous standard. This standard better reflects international practice and is compatible with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO warns that if the respondent is asked to make a comparison with "people of your own age" "it may not measure progress of the 'average' state of health in the population, since respondents are in fact invited to refer to the average [of their age group]" (Source: World Health Organisation, A. de Bruin, H.S.J. Picavet and A. Nossikov eds. 1996, Toward the international harmonisation of methods and instruments, p.51-52).

  • Health status, self-assessed July 15, 1998 to November 15, 2009
Date modified: